"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Crystal Bridge: Secrets Revealed!

Charlie Pulsipher has written and self-published a book called The Crystal Bridge. He's weird. He can be found at Notice Your World. You should buy his book, not only because it will make me jealous, but because it's a ripping yarn about inter-dimensional travel and dragons. 

I spoke with Charlie while we sipped cocktails (root beer and grape Welch's) on the veranda at a swanky Beverly Hills club. 

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way: What's your book about? 

It's about a boy who can open wormholes to far away worlds, a girl who can see other people's memories as though they were her own, and their adventures after their gifts interact. They end up lost on a planet on the edge of war surrounded by dangerous creatures. That distant world is in danger as an ancient being imprisoned in the space between universes awakens. Pretty much my two main characters must decide to save the world or go home, but Earth isn't safe, either. 

My own book, Trendy Poseurs Go Home, is a slice of YA fiction that might be compared to the books King Dork or Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. (See www.brentwescott.com for more info on Trendy Poseurs Go Home!) Compare your book to something so I'll know if I'd like it or not.

I think my writing is similar to Tad Williams, though a little less descriptive. It's hard to compare it to other books because I'm mixing sci-fi and fantasy. Take a little Harry Potter, The Belgariad series, and throw in a touch of A Wrinkle in Time. With television and movies, it would be Fringe, Farscape, and Lord of the Rings...with a touch of Stargate. 

You've said before that the inspiration for this story came from two separate dreams. I once dreamt that Pee-Wee Herman and R2-D2 were on a stage in a field giving a political speech a la Willy Stark. Do you think that would make a good book? 

Wow...and I thought I was weird. That might make an interesting point in a book, but not a whole book. What you have to know is that, in my dreams, I build up a back-story. A while ago I had a dream where a group of Martian children were making fun of another Martian child. They threw an egg at his head. That was the extent of the dream, but there were layers underneath it. The Martian society was made up of two subclasses, very strong laborers and mentally augmented upper class. They looked different and had been genetically engineered to have distinct skills. The upper class kids were throwing a special egg that smelled horrible when raw, but delicious when cooked. It's a bit of a delicacy and very expensive. The labor class boy used a power he shouldn't have to cook the egg before it hit him. The upper class kids were disappointed, but assumed their brainless friend had grabbed a hard boiled one. There were even more layers that I won't share because this is getting long. That's how I dream. Crazy, I know. 

Now we get to what matters: I'm an English teacher, but that doesn't matter now. What's the theme of The Crystal Bridge? I mean, why does it matter, man? How does your book benefit humanity like To Kill a Mockingbird or Bloom County? 

Of course it comes down to good vanquishing evil, but it's got more to it. My main characters have to make some hard decisions that could cost them their lives, but benefit the majority of humanity or other sentient life. Is the greater good worthwhile? It also has a bit of Frankenstein in it, technology out of control that threatens the creators and all creation, in this case. I'll let the readers explore any other themes that they discover.

Draw us a picture of a pivotal scene. Your fans (and by fans, I mean Nicki at The Loaded Handbag) demand it.
I picture Keanu Reeves in the lead role.

You dedicate this book to your wife (which I condone since she's my sister) by saying she supported you quitting your soul-sucking job in order to write. How does it feel to be able to dedicate all of your time doing what you love, to pursue a dream? 

It's been amazing to focus all my time on writing for the past few months. It would have taken me a couple more years to finish my novel if I hadn't left that job. I am very grateful to my wife and everyone who encouraged me. It was a crazy leap of faith and I was half certain we'd starve.

You have decided to go Indie with this publication, writing, editing, formatting, uploading, printing it all by yourself. Why did you decide on this route to publication? What has that process been like?

I've watched the upheavals in traditional publishing the last year or so with great interest along with fear and dismay. Borders fell apart, Amazon is growing, Barnes & Noble is scrambling to push their Nook and dedicate more store space to ebooks, and big publishers are also trying to figure out how to make money as everything shifts more to digital. I've seen author advances get smaller while agents and publishers are looking for bigger cuts or more rights. I am also impatient and I really didn't want to wait three to ten years before seeing my name on a book, which is what a new author can expect. I decided I will try this Indie thing and hold on to my rights. It's been educational. I admit I had to reformat my novel about six or seven times before I was happy with the outcome. Then I had to reformat it a couple more times for print. But now I know I can do it again and again.

Now that you've accomplished this feat of derring-do, are you at all interested in traditional print publication using agents and publishers?

I wouldn't say no if a big publisher came knocking, but I don't think I'll go looking for them. I like being able to set my own prices, choose my covers, and keep my rights forever and ever. I may not be making tons of money, but I'll keep making my trickle as long as I keep my novel online. I'm certain I'll make more than I would have with an advance...in the long run.

What's next for Charles M. Pulsipher? Are you currently in need of a new soul-sucking job? Are you willing to relocate?

Yes I am in need of another job, hopefully not so soul-sucky. We didn't starve, but we will begin to soon if I don't. I'm looking for something that will still let me write. I have many more novels in my head that are begging to get out. My wife's a teacher so we probably won't be relocating any time soon.

Finally, let's get down to the point of all this brouhaha: Where can one purchase this tome, and how much does it cost?


  1. Sounds pretty cool. Thanks for the interview. Kudos to anyone who has the guts to quit a soul sucking job (and their supportive spouse!) to pursue what he/she loves! Best of luck.

  2. Great interview guys! Good luck finding a job, Charles. Congrats on your book!

  3. Thanks all. It's exciting and scary and I really enjoy making Brent jealous.

  4. I wish I had the cojones to quit and write. But that, I'm afraid is going to have to wait until I retire. As soon as I garner a few extra e-bucks I plan on getting both books!

  5. I bought it on the Nook and am on the last 100-pages. So far it's been a good read.

  6. darev, I'm going back to work soon. Cajones aren't enough sometimes. :)

    And, what Michael means by "a good read" is that it is freaking amazing. Right, Michael? Actually, I'm content with it being good.

  7. Sounds interesting, like something my 7th grader would enjoy.

  8. Charles: Hmmm. I'm always truthful I think when I compliment someone's writing. "Amazing" belongs on the shelf where I stick Neil Gaiman, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, David Eddings, Tolkien, and to some extent George R.R. Martin (although I'm loathe to say that). I think that you have the talent to get there but if you're asking me if you are there right now with your debut novel, I'd have to say "not yet".

  9. I know, Michael. I am perfectly happy with four star reviews. Even a few three stars. I don't expect five stars all the time and I know I've got plenty of improvement ahead of me. I was joking with you. You should know that by now. Humility, I have buckets of the stuff.

  10. Thanks for all the comments and for keeping them in line, Charlie. Let's remember that what's important is that should keep it to light, unimportant banter, honesty be damned. (Sarcasm font engaged because I was just reading about how difficult it is to make a sarcastic point in writing.)